Oct 042015

I thought today would be a generally laid back day.  Yeh, right!  After finishing a doctor's appointment and one other short errand, I thought I would play with my kids for a bit and then get down to doing some research for the coming days.  Things didn't unfold like that.  A call from my student, Lucia, had me at her house helping with some paperwork.  I didn't arrive home until after 7 pm and I was tired. I did however get some research done, but that other chore . . . laundry . . . never got done.  I must get it done tomorrow!

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:23 (average 5:00). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Short Takes

Foreign Policy — I suspect it is because we mistakenly confuse a desire for peace with weakness and we assume anyone who exhibits a passionate commitment to peace is some sort of “Kumbaya”-singing idealist who just doesn’t understand how the world works and is therefore not tough enough for the Big Job. As Leslie Gelb, the former president of the Council on Foreign Relations and an experienced national security professional, admitted a few years ago that preserving one’s credibility in the foreign-policy establishment requires a certain enthusiasm for the use of military power. Even Obama felt compelled to give a rather hawkish speech when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize (!), lest anyone infer he wasn’t tough enough to be the Leader of the Free World.

The current veneration of all things military reinforces this problem, to the point that hardly any politicians or ordinary citizens will utter a critical word about “the troops” or their commanders. The United States has become better at starting wars than at winning or finishing them, yet it still treats unsuccessful generals with enormous deference and punctuates sporting contests with aerial flybys and other displays of martial fervor. I’m all for thanking veterans for their service and respecting their sacrifices, but I’d rather show it by providing better medical treatment for veterans afterward than by giving the Pentagon a free pass.

Read the rest of this interesting article at Foreign Policy.  What should peace look like?  Should it be just the cessation of hostilities, or should it be deeper, more profound?

Upworthy — Right now, in the small village of Deh'Subz, Afghanistan, the first private, free, rural women's college in the nation's history is being built.

The pioneer behind the project?

Photo courtesy of Razia's Ray of Hope Foundation.

71-year-old Razia Jan, an educator who grew up in a more liberal Afghanistan before Taliban occupation. She later moved to the U.S. to attend Harvard University and then settled in Massachusetts.

Read more about how Razia Jan is changing the lives of girl's, their parents and their villages.  About a month ago, I posted Get Girls Back in the Classroom in Care2.  If you did not have a chance to sign it then, please consider it today.  An educated girl makes a big difference to herself, her family and her community.  and let us not forget Malala Yousafzai who said  "I truly believe the only way we can create global peace is through not only educating our minds, but our hearts and our souls."

Foreign Policy — On Thursday afternoon, the world received its answer. After months of speculation, India finally released its formal greenhouse gas emissions plan for the COP 21 conference. And the answer is promising.

Fossil fuels will still make up a large percentage of the global energy mix until at least 2040 — even with robust growth of renewables. This is particularly true of India. The Indian INDC partially acknowledges this, to the extent that, while promising action on climate change, it also asks the developed world for “equitable carbon and development space” — in essence, arguing that since India has been responsible for a historically low proportion of emissions activity, it cannot be asked to make drastic emissions cuts at a time when it needs as much effort as possible directed at fighting endemic poverty. If developed nations wish India to be a responsible player on climate change, this plan argues, the country needs assistance, especially financial, in aggressively adopting new low- and zero-carbon technologies.

Read the whole article at Foreign Policy.  India has some doable goals for emissions, but with so many of her people caught in profound poverty, it won't be easy, nor will it be short term.

My Universe —   

Thanks to Ted W and Carol B @ Care2 for finding this gem.

Having lived in the north, I can relate!

Oct 032015

It has been a busy day!  I did two hours of physiotherapy followed by 3 hours of teaching ESL.  Once I arrived home, it was straight to the computer to get the 02/10/15 articles posted to Care2 and links distributed. I took advantage of one of Lona's cat naps . . . soooooooo relaxing! and then had a late dinner.  As a result, this is today's only article.  Tomorrow won't be so busy outside the house, but I need to do laundry before I start scaring the neighbourhood!

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:31 (average 4:24). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Upworthy — Female genital mutilation, also known as FGM or FGC (female genital cutting), is performed in several African countries and parts of the Middle East, and less frequently in Malaysia, Indonesia, India, and Pakistan. It also occurs in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Europe — despite being illegal in many places.

FGM is barbaric, inhuman and a violation of human rights and dignity. Please sign this petition to end FGM.

Read the rest of the article and see how five young men react to this proceedure.

Rachel Maddow — h/t Jim PhillipsA look at Kevin McCarthy, poised to be the new Speaker of the House when Congressional Republicans vote next week.

As things sit now, the Speaker, 2nd in succession to the White House behind the Vice President should something happen to the President, is elected by only 247 members of the House of Representatives.  Scary! Does Kevin McCarthy represent the level of competence that the Republicans, or more specifically the Teabaggers, bring to the Congress? Even scarier!!  If so, then God help the US.

NY Times — Ever since it became public that Pope Francis met in Washington with Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples, the questions have been swirling: Why did he meet with her, and was it meant as a political statement?

As it turns out, the Vatican said on Friday, the pope did not mean to endorse Ms. Davis’s views. It also said he gave her no more than a typical brief greeting, despite what her lawyer described.

Instead, the Vatican said that Francis gave only one “real audience”: to someone later identified as one of his former students, Yayo Grassi, a gay man in Washington who says he brought his partner of 19 years to the Vatican’s embassy in Washington for a reunion. They even shot video.

This is a portion of a Faithful America e-mail that Joanne brought to my attention:

After days of speculation, the truth has finally come out: Pope Francis did not hold a private meeting to express his support for Kim Davis's efforts to block gay marriage licenses.

According to an official Vatican statement, Kim Davis was among "several dozen persons" attending a reception at the Vatican embassy, "the pope did not enter into the details of the situation," and "his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support."

Moreover, it seems that the pope did not request Kim Davis be invited.

According to press reports, one man was likely responsible for Davis's invitation: Carlo Maria Vigano, a conservative church official who was appointed by Pope Benedict as Vatican ambassador to the United States (formally called the "apostolic nuncio").

Having created an opportunity for right-wing evangelicals to dishonestly hijack the message of the pope's visit to the United States, Vigano must now resign.

If you are interested in the Faithful America petition, you can find it HERE. 

I believe that Kim Davis is being used as a political bullet within the Vatican in a dispute between the very conservative factions and the more liberal Pope Francis.  I have no sympathy for her whatsoever.  Davis has a job to do . . . act in accordance with the laws of the land . . . and if she cannot do that for any reason, she should resign.

Mother Jones — While speaking to reporters during a campaign stop in Greenville, South Carolina, on Friday, Jeb Bush weighed in on the latest school shooting to take place in the United States, this time in Oregon, just a day before.

You can read a transcript of his comment HERE.  Mr Compassionate speaks out . . . what a farce!

My Universe — 


Give these boys a remote control and they will be attending services

at the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb!

Oct 022015

It has been a fairly relaxing day, although most of it has been spent at the computer working on Friday's and Saturday's articles.  That means tonnes of reading and other research.  Tomorrow I have physio, closely followed by teaching ESL so time is short.  Thanks to Lona for the supply of cat naps to which I avail myself from time to time.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:24 (average 5:23). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Upworthy — h/t JL — Cats. We love them, but do they love us? We may never know. But there's one thing we know … cats hate patriarchy.

If you've ever tried to make a cat live up to your expectations of cat behavior, you probably already know this. They despise ALL systems of unequal power and expectations. Cats are over patriarchy.

Of course cats are so over patriarchy!  Check it out.  They are fully into catriarchy!

The New Yorker — After the stunning ISIS blitz in June, 2014, that captured tremendous territory in Syria and Iraq, Washington employed a so-called “Iraq First” strategy. The U.S.-led coalition committed to using air power to contain ISIS in Syria but gave preference to restoring Iraqi sovereignty. Priorities are now shifting, as Syria’s war spreads across continents. The United States would like to replicate the success of the Iran nuclear deal to press for coöperation among China, Russia, Iran, and the European powers, while also enlisting Turkey and the Arab countries that are heavily invested in Syria’s future. At the U.N., on Wednesday, Kerry warned Russia against striking targets beyond ISIS or Al Qaeda’s local affiliate. But, Kerry told the Security Council, “The United States supports any genuine effort to fight ISIL and Al Qaeda affiliated groups, especially Al Nusra.” If Russia has a “genuine commitment” to defeat ISIS, he said, “we welcome that effort” and will work to “deconflict” the respective American and Russian air campaigns in Syria. The bigger question is whether Iran’s interest in coöperation was maxed out with the nuclear deal—or whether old enemies could become unlikely partners in determining Syria’s future.

As said in The Nation "Similarly, each of Kissinger’s Middle East initiatives has been disastrous in the long run. Just think about them from the vantage point of 2015: … emboldening Pakistan’s intelligence service, nurturing Islamic fundamentalism, playing Iran and the Kurds off against Iraq, and then Iraq and Iran off against the Kurds, and committing Washington to defending Israel’s occupation of Arab lands."

Will Iran coöperate on Syria?  It is hard to say.  Russia is backing Assad and bombing Syrian rebel forces which also include ISIS fighters.  As well, Russia has supplied weapons and materiel to Iran. But the US has nurtured Islamic fundamentalism which it now wants to defeat.  It seems that the various countries are doing what is right for them while ignoring the people of Syria.

Huffington Post — Ray Halbritter, representative of the Oneida Indian Nation and an occasional Huffington Post blogger, says that instead, Snyder and other supporters of these names and mascots are denying Native Americans a simple request to be seen as equals in the eyes of their non-Native peers.

"They're so desensitized, they think Indian people are not real people; our children and our concerns are not real to them," Halbritter told HuffPost last year. "They don't think [the debate] is even real, they don't even think it's even worth bringing up or talking about. We're not human beings, we're not even part of humanity. And that's the problem. They think of us as just something to entertain them, or mascots — relics out of a museum."

Jeb: “But again, I don’t think politicians ought to be having any say about that, to be honest with you. I don’t find it offensive. Native American tribes generally don’t find it offensive.”

Ah, rich white privilege at it's finest with a rich white male Republican at the helm!  Bush is reprehensible (I wanted to use some other nouns and adjectives but thought better of it since this is TC's blog) as is Snyder.  I wonder where Jeb obtained his information about what Native American tribes find offensive, or not?

My Universe — I could not resist sharing this video with you.  I don't know if it's just flip-flops that engenders this reaction or more.  My cats like to use my shoes for sleeping on when they're not on the bed.  Enjoy!

Oct 012015

Today was not as busy as yesterday, but thanks Lona for the cat nap.  I availed myself late this afternoon.  Too bad because it was a wonderfully sunny day and not hot.  Very pleasant!  One thing that I have noticed is that while the trees are turning colours and losing their leaves, some shrubs are actually showing new growth like in the spring.  The drought took its toll, but more growth is starting as a result of the rain.  Thank you all for your birthday wishes for my mother.  I did indeed pass them on to her.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:47 (average 5:51). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Fantasy Football — I can't provide the excellent report that TomCat does, but a simple copy/paste works to give everybody an idea where things stand.

I see Vivian you have fixed your "bye issue" for now.  Any more questions just send me a message.

Rank Team W-L-T Pct Stk Waiver For Against


3-0-0 1.000 W3 5 353.58 250.06

Progressive UnderdogsProgressive Underdogs

2-1-0 .667 L1 4 306.14 243.64

Size 9 StompersSize 9 Stompers

2-1-0 .667 W2 9 246.72 238.50

TomCat Teabag TrashersTomCat Teabag Trashers

2-1-0 .667 W2 3 329.20 319.64

Monster MashersMonster Mashers

2-1-0 .667 W1 10 262.64 229.14


1-2-0 .333 L2 2 274.96 329.86

Lefty HillbilliesLefty Hillbillies

1-2-0 .333 L1 8 230.94 226.46

Playing without a helmetPlaying without a helmet

1-2-0 .333 L2 1 305.14 400.34

BALCO BombersBALCO Bombers

1-2-0 .333 W1 7 252.02 265.30

Purple DemonPurple Demon

0-3-0 .000 L3 6 251.38 309.78

* Rank change shown is from week 2 – 3

Short Takes

Daily Kos — h/t Pat B — The hypocrisy ran rampant during the congressional hearing on Planned Parenthood funding. The disrespect shown to Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards bordered on misogyny.

Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chair Jason Chaffetz should be ashamed of the entire hearing. The congressman's attacks on Cecile Richard illustrated that, in fact, his party's war on women is real. It is not made up.

Please make a point to see the video at Daily Kos with Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings offering a fierce and cogent response to the attack on Cecile Richards during the Planned Parenthood "hearing". Here is Rachel Maddow with Cecile Richards.

Alternet — John Boehner was awful, or as Paul Krugman writes in Monday's column, "a terrible, very bad, no good speaker of the House. Under his leadership, Republicans pursued an unprecedented strategy of scorched-earth obstructionism, which did immense damage to the economy and undermined America’s credibility around the world."

The trouble is, Boehner was merely a symptom of a far worse strain in the Republican party that, with his exit, will be unleashed on us with even fuller fury.

And Bill Maher commented on Boehner's resignation in a monologue.

The New Yorker — Just hours after NASA revealed the discovery of water on the surface of Mars, a spokesman for Koch Industries said that the company would spend billions to become the red planet’s first major industrial polluter.

“At Koch Industries, we are well aware that our practice of spewing over six million pounds of toxins a year into Earth’s water is not sustainable,” said the billionaire Koch brothers’ corporate spokesman, Harland Dorrinson. “That’s why this discovery of water on Mars is so exciting.”

Is Andy channeling future events that will come to pass, or sitting in on a Koch wet dream?

My Universe — I am feeling a little hen pecked!  My kids are sitting on the floor around me but reaching up to the keyboard on occasion!

Sep 302015

In addition to teaching English to Lucia whom I have mentioned before, I also do some advocacy work for her.  That is how I started my day today. Then it was off to buy a bouquet of balloons . . . bright coloured mylars . . . and off to my mother's.  She gave me a big smile when she saw the balloons.  I passed on your greetings.  After feeding her lunch, we sat listening to some music.  She was the bell of the ball as people admired her balloons and wished her Happy Birthday, staff and residents alike.  As I left, she had fallen asleep.  I imagine she will sleep well tonight.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:19 (average 4:44). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Raw Story — In  a badgering and bullying performance that would have made House of Un-American activities interrogator Roy Cohn proud, a Republican congressman from Ohio interrupted the head of Planned Parenthood 19 times in five short minutes in a hearing on Tuesday.

Appearing at the GOP-led witchhunt — coordinated between virulent anti-abortion extremists and hard right conservatives — Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards repeatedly came under attack from the Republican-dominated committee.

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan (R) is, in my opinion, an arrogant bully, a pugilistic SOB that should never have been elected to Congress.  Cecile Richards was composed despite Jordan's antics.  He reminds me of Darrel Issa, yet another Republican SOB.

Upworthy —  While you were probably wondering if you'd pass the driver's test at 15 years old, Nicole Ticea was working to revolutionize HIV testing.

How? By trying to make HIV tests as easy as pregnancy tests.

Brilliant!  This additional information from CTV News

Another Vancouver teen, Nicole Ticea, won the Intel Foundation Young Scientist award and received a prize of US$50,000 for her disposable and electricity-free HIV testing device.

The easy-to-use tool provides results in an hour and should cost less than US$5 to produce. Ticea has already founded her own company, which recently received a US$100,000 grant to continue developing the technology.

The 16-year-old York House student said she created the device to help combat the high rate of undiagnosed HIV in low-income communities.

"Over time, I really realized there was a story to be told with this entire HIV epidemic that not only involved how we create better testing, but: 'How do we make testing more accessible? How do we get individuals to actually submit and want to be tested?"' she said. "It's very interesting and very complex."

Alternet — With the debate over Planned Parenthood heating up, liberal Catholics are on the defensive again, scrambling to protect Planned Parenthood and its vital services from the GOP outrage machine. Leading the charge is a group of 60 Catholic State leaders from over 25 states, "Catholics for Choice", which is taking out a full-page ad in The Washington Post today to make the social justice case for Planned Parenthood. Not only, do they note, is the latest attack on Planned Parenthood an attack on women, it's an attack on the poor and vulnerable . . . 

This is a Republican attack on the poor, on women, and on the vulnerable, the very people that Republicans despise and wish to disenfranchise by any means possible.

My Universe — 

Garfield busy-41

Sep 292015

Well today is my momma's birthday — 87 years old.  I will going up to her care centre for a visit in the afternoon and take some brightly coloured balloons to bobble about and catch her attention.  I remember thinking as a child that my parents were really old at the age of about 40, and that I would never make it that far.  I knew my grandparents, even great grandparents, but that their ages were greater than my parents didn't seem to register the same way.  Now I am in my mid 60s, a mother to three cats, an honourary grandmother to 7 little humans (one named after me), and my mind still says I can do anything, but the body sometimes protests.  

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:29 (average 4:35). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Short Takes

Daily Kos — By now we all know GOP Presidential wannabee Carly Fiorina has been telling everyone that she saw a video of an aborted fetus "with arms and legs kicking while Planned Parenthood people dissected the baby looking for its brain."

Her story is bullshit of the highest order — HOWEVER — there is a tiny element of truth in the story.

Click on Here is the mom who gave birth to the premature baby. to see what the truth is . . . and it is not what Fiorina is spreading!  See the Lexi Oliver Fretz story here in Crooks and Liars.

And now the House wants to set up an investigation of Planned Parenthood after 3 states and the FBI have finished investigations and found no wrong doing.  Those fiscal conservatives really do like to throw good money after bad!

Raw Story — Global financial regulators pledged to draft rules by November that will prevent taxpayers from having to bail out struggling financial institutions, according to reports. The announcement of the upcoming rules, which seek to combat banks and other institutions being “too big to fail,” followed a Friday meeting of the Financial Stability Board (FSB), a group of global financial regulators, in London.

Welcome news indeed.  My career was spent in banking management doing, among other things, Operational Risk Management and auditing. Of course, the largest banks like JP Morgan Chase and Citibank are opposing the move.  They would be required to carry higher capital requirements to offset risks.  For banks, that is considered to be "dead" money . . . money not making money so to speak.  Check out the rest of the story at Raw Story and additional info at Meeting of the Financial Stability Board. There will be a lot of lobbying going on in Washington.

Alternet — Earlier this week, GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said that he didn’t want “stupid” people — i.e. people who won’t vote for him — to vote at all. Then a Republican state representative in Florida was caught suggesting that the party beat Rep. Corrine Brown by redrawing her African-American-majority district to include a large population of prisoners, who are not allowed to vote in Florida.


These are just two of the instances of Republican lawmakers admitting that their electoral strategy hinges not just on winning votes, but on suppressing the votes of people who they think will oppose them.

Read about the others.  It could not get much more blatant than that!  I often wonder when the DOJ, or another government agency, is going to put the screws to the GOP for its flagrant voter suppression!

My Universe — Just sticking my head in to say hello!


Sep 282015

OK, it has been a very long day.  I started by doing some research for the blog and then I went to get some things like 18 kg (40 lbs) of cat food out of my car when my 2 boys dashed out the door for a frolic.  Fortunately, they stay very close to the front door.  Unfortunately, they are not want to come in the house when called.  So I waited outside with them until they finally came in.  That however made me 15 minutes late picking up my student, Lucia.  We went to Costco for her very big shop. Fortunately, that is now done and I am at home with my leg up for a bit and back to working on the blog.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:26 (average 5:14). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Short Takes

PoliticusUSA — Lawmakers had agreed not to reach out for handshakes from Pope Francis as he entered the House chamber, so it was a pointed and deliberate move when the Pope saved his only handshake for Secretary of State John Kerry.


Read the rest of this very short article using the link above.

Huffington Post — With the bang of a gavel, international leaders approved an ambitious 15-year plan Friday to tackle the world's biggest problems, from eradicating poverty to preserving the planet to reducing inequality. Now comes the tough part: Drumming up support and money to achieve the goals and transform the world.

Pope Francis gave his backing to the new development agenda in an address to the U.N. General Assembly before the summit to adopt the 17-point plan opened, calling it "an important sign of hope'' at a very troubled time in the Middle East and Africa.

The document, titled "Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,'' not only outlines 17 broad goals but sets 169 specific targets.

The non-binding goals succeed the eight Millennium Development Goals adopted by world leaders 15 years ago. Only one of those has been achieved: halving the number of people living in extreme poverty, due primarily to economic growth in China. At least one other is close – cutting in half the proportion of people without access to clean water – and there are still three months until the goals expire.

In my opinion, the primary goal must be the cessation of ALL hostilities in the world.  That does not mean that we wait until that happens, otherwise nothing will be done.  But there needs to be respect . . . respect for people and culture; respect for religions or atheism; respect for the planet; and respect for the fruits of the planet.

Raw Story — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggested over the weekend that the Republican presidential candidates were so “laughable” that “the people of Iran look at them as a form of entertainment.”

“Sometimes when I would have time some of [the Republican presidential debates were] broadcast live and I would watch it,” Rouhani told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “Some of it was quite laughable. It was very strange, the things that they spoke of.”

“Some of them wouldn’t even know where Tehran was in relation to Iran,” the president said with a smile. “Some of them wouldn’t know where Iran was geographically, not distinguishing that one is the capital of the other. What they spoke of was quite far away from the truth.”

Read the rest.  I think we would agree that the Republcan presidential candidates are quite laughable if the prospects of a Republican POTUS weren't so dire.

The New Yorker — As Pope Francis makes his historic first visit to the United States, millions of Americans are turning out to thank the Pontiff for temporarily displacing Donald Trump from the news.

As the Pope visits Washington, New York, and Philadelphia, people from every walk of life are expressing profound gratitude that the news media is offering non-stop coverage of Francis’s every move instead of Trump’s, if only for five days.

I swear, Andy is straight reporting yet again!

My Universe"How undignified!  Put me down this second you brute . . . there are people watching!"